DEVELOPMENT CODE REVISITED
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MOVE AHEAD OR START OVER 11-5-14 LMS

The Salmon City Council has decided to invite professional consultant Terri Ottens to participate in a discussion regarding the next step to take in the process of creating a Development Code for the city.

The decision came after a 45 minute discussion with Lemhi County Planning and Zoning Administrator Gary Goodman on the City of Salmon Development Code as written to date. The council asked Goodman his opinion of the document and he said he doesn’t think it fits the city. He said his preference would be to find a skeleton outline for such a document and add area specifics. As the prospective City Planning and Zoning Administrator he added it is the city that sets policy and he is happy to accept what the city adopts.

When asked what it is he doesn’t like about the as yet to be adopted Development Code Goodman said it should be written in a way lay people can understand and cited confusing setback issues as an example. He also said the document should prepare for what probably will happen in the future, not for what might happen. He said there are things in the document that are way beyond what a city of this size needs and that if it were up to him he would start over and proceed differently especially in the area of citizen input.

Goodman worked with Ottens on development of the County Comprehensive Plan. He said she asked citizens what they did and didn’t like about the document throughout its development and that the Comp Plan was molded and based on citizen input. In contrast he said the city’s Development Code was first written in-house and then released for public comment.

When asked about differences in the county and city documents Goodman again used the setbacks example saying in the county Comprehensive Plan setbacks are explained in one paragraph. In the city document the explanations require three pages.

President Jim Baker cited how many years of work have been expended on getting this far. He agreed some elements are not needed but questioned starting all over again. Councilman Jim Bockelman raised the question, “If we could produce a better document, should we do a better document?” Councilman Fred Waidely commented there are areas of the document that are hard to understand and that don’t apply to Salmon. He recommended hearing all of Goodman’s thoughts before deciding anything.

Councilman Russ Chinski said he thinks a better document can be produced and that he would like to see the city and county codes mesh. Goodman agreed then said, “This is your document. If you want to approve it or you want to move forward with it, I’ll work with whatever you guys choose to do. But if you want my opinion…I just gave it to you.”

Mayor Leo Marshall remembered that Terri Ottens was originally part of the city’s Development Code project but stepped away from it when what she wrote based on public input kept being changed. Goodman said he has recently spoken to Ottens and she indicated she would love to come back and finish her job as long as she could be assured no one would change what she thinks the public says and what she writes. Baker was amazed the council had not been informed of that situation and Goodman said Ottens can document notifications to the City Administrator and others however that information was not relayed any further.

Although throwing out and starting over still seemed extreme to most council members it was decided they would like to confer with Ottens. Goodman said she does still have original public input documents.

The council asked Goodman to invite Ottens to the December 3rd meeting of the Salmon City Council where time will be set aside for an in depth Development Code discussion. In the meantime Goodman will go through the draft Development Code and highlight differences between city and county codes as well as make note of recommended changes.


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